« LA-3 Update: Tauzin III Violates Probation | Main | Welcome Kos Folk... »

Friday, December 03, 2004

Pork vs. Pell Grants

Posted by Tim Tagaris

We will not forget in 2006.  (Part of the forthcoming Swing State Project Compilation of Congressional Injustices that you asked for)

When Congress voted to pass 3000 plus page pork-laden embarrassment of an Omnibus Appropriations Bill they had many choices.  One was pork or pell grants.  Pork won.

From the L.A. Times

In passing the omnibus spending bill, Congress gave the go-ahead to the U.S. Department of Education to "adjust" its formulas for calculating financial aid. Last year, Congress had held back the adjustment because it would reduce grants for 1.2 million students and cut off aid completely to about 90,000.

It didn't stop them this year.  I guess when you are looking for cash to fund therapeutic horseback riding programs and $5 million for the new Strom Thurmond Fitness Center, the money has got to come from somewhere.  One of the places it came from this time, was Pell Grants to disadvantaged high school graduates.

The Harvard Crimson gives the details:

Under the proposed changes, students whose parents make between $25,000 and $30,000 will receive less funding. But the largest changes will be amongst those who earn between $30,000 and $45,000���no fortune in light of the high cost of American tuition. 84,000 students stand to lose their grants altogether.

I know there are a lot of students & parents of who visit this blog.  I was wondering, have your tuition costs gone up or down in the past few years?  Those tuition increases also mean the new $4,050 cap on pell grants don't go as far as they used to.

Republicans will say that they increased Pell Grant funding by $458 million and pat themselves on the back.  However, as the Stanford Daily notes, this does not nearly keep up with the increased demand for the grants.  Over 1 million students will face a reduction in their financial aid.

Senator and N.J. Gubernatorial candidate John Corzine takes us home.

"We should be expanding opportunities for college in America, not eliminating opportunities for students to seek financial aid,��� Corzine said in a Nov. 18 press release. ���I don���t know how the Bush Administration can call themselves compassionate when they are throwing students out of the opportunity to seek a college education."

All the injustice to our youth aside.  Let us remember that we are not running record surpluses anymore either.  At a time of record debt and deficit, our Congress is spending money like is just continually printed up on machines right down the street.

Posted at 12:16 AM in General | Technorati


I know this is a serious subject, but does anyone else chuckle when they think about the Strom Thurmond Fitness Center?


Posted by: Tim T. at December 3, 2004 12:18 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

We're most likely seeing the early stages of the dismantling of most government financial aid programs for postsecondary education. With tuition inflation continuing at a dangerous clip and the need for draconian budget cuts on the horizon, student aid will be near the top of the list of quick fixes. Financial aid is almost entirely responsible for the hyperinflation of college tuition, as colleges would never be able to raise rates this much if they were dependent on market forces. With this in mind, I expect politicians to successfully brand colleges as free-spending bogeymen to turn the public against higher education assistance and help them slash student aid yet avoid political suicide in the process.

Ironically, the GOP's plans to subsidize private elementary and secondary schools with vouchers would have the exact same consequences as financial aid for college students has had....inflating costs to unsustainable levels.

Posted by: Mark at December 3, 2004 10:49 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sad, sad, sad ... whatever happened to "equality of opporunity" or Jeffersonian democracy? There's a vlue for you.

Mark, you have a point that few (at least progressives) are willing to ackowledge. Private schools may be part of the problem, but with federalism, there is always the danger that more federal financial aid will lead to more state tuition hikes. To my knowledge though state colleges mostly subsidize their students with tuition covering perhaps 30% of the total cost. In Colorado, tuition has stayed down because any increases in tuition have to be refunded to the taxpayers (under a 1990s constitutional amendment) but higher education is being starved. It's a tangled solution: one proposal in Colorado was to have professors teach more, but there was a huge backlash among professors, as if we need more people cranking out social science research.

Keeping college affordable should really be a key part of our democracy; and I bet would go a longer way, and receive wider support, in helping the disadvantaged than programs such as affirmative action do.

Posted by: Marc at December 3, 2004 04:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I don't know if this comment really goes here, but I couldn't find a better place and I wanted to bring this up.

This is an article (link below) about Bush's choice for Homeland Security Secretary, Bernard Kerik. The nature of the article is that Kerik made A LOT of money (6.2 million) from a company that sold things to the very same department (Homeland Security) in the past. The white house is claiming that, of course, Mr. Kerik will sever all ties with said company and any others that present a possible conflict of interest.

My question is this: What are the legal boundaries and, separately, what are the ethical boundaries, of what constitutes a conflict of interest? The article never says Mr. Kerik will give up any remaining stock options, only that he will give up his position on the board of directors. I've never been comfortable with Dick Cheney's and Condi Rice's close ties to the oil industry (gee, am I alone here?). And isn't it true that Cheney continued to profit from Haliburtin and other companies while in office, even though he didn't officially "work for them" any longer? I'm not sure about that, so please correct me if I'm wrong. Also, any legal or other minds out there who have some knowledge or expertise in this area, please share!

Here's the link. (Please forgive the long URL; I don't know how to do a proper link in this context.)


Posted by: WisVoter at December 9, 2004 10:41 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment